Last week Bloggerhythms posted the first part of the top 10 CDs of the decade and counted down numbers 10 through 6. In case you missed it here is part 1. Today we continue with the final 5.
5. The Corrs - Home (2006)
Nothing I'm writing here about The Corrs is new. I've said before the band would have done far better artistically if they had stuck to their roots and played what is obviously their first love, Celtic music, but then they probably wouldn't be millionaires. Here, as a tribute to Jean Corr, their late mother, they celebrate both her memory and their heritage. The siblings took the songbook of Jean's band and added their trademark sound to the twelve tracks (most of them in an acoustic setting) to record Home, the best work in their catalog.
4. The Cat Empire - Two Shoes (2005)
There isn't another band in the world as unusual as The Cat Empire. Bloggerhythms always gives points for uniqueness, especially if it's well done, and Two Shoes is uniformly excellent. This Australian party band recorded this set in Havana, Cuba without any guitars. One of their lead instruments is a trumpet. Heavy on ska, jazz, and R&B, with a little hip-hop thrown in for color (one of their percussionists lives behind his turntable), this sextet deserves to be huge. Olliver McGill, their outstanding pianist, could hang with any jazzmen on the planet. Their followup, So Many Nights, released last year, is not quite as eclectic but also worthy of your time.
3. Jimmy Lafave - Cimarron Manifesto (2007)
Jimmy Lafave just might be the most unknown singer-songwriter deserving of a wider audience. He gets better with each CD yet it is hard to believe he will ever top Cimarron Manifesto. Lafave is one of those singers with an earthy but pleasing voice. He writes heartfelt lyrics about love and lost love, and he has a soulful, rambling spirit. He adds some politics and social commentary to his repertoire too. Lafave idolizes Bob Dylan and covers his songs well. This past winter he organized and traveled around the country while headlining a tribute to Woody Guthrie that I had the pleasure of attending. It was one of Lafave's rare appearances outside of Texas.
2. Shelby Lynne - Just A Little Lovin' (2008)
Since the turn of the century Shelby Lynne's career has been of the highest quality. Four out of the five discs she released since then could have made this list. It was hard to pick just one. Lynne is a clever and often irreverent songwriter with a golden country voice that has garnered her respect way beyond Nashville. This CD, a sparsely produced tribute to the late Dusty Springfield, also shows how superbly she can interpret other people's music. Is it better than her previously released, mostly self-written, works? Not necessarily, but she deserves the runner-up spot on this list because of her diverse talents. Lynne's consistency wins her the Bloggerhythms award for artist of the decade.
1. Black 47 - Trouble in the Land (2000)
I didn't discover Black 47 until over a decade into their career. This CD was the band's first music I ever heard. I immediately fell in love with lead singer Larry Kirwan's lyrics and his band who combined reggae, punk, and Celtic folk music with some straight ahead rock. They are New York City street rebels with an Irish heritage that shows up everywhere in their music. It's #1 here because this wonderful disc spawned my love of Celtic rock in general and it's the album that had the most influence on my musical tastes these past ten years. It set in motion affairs with The Saw Doctors, The Young Dubliners, The Corrs, and even the Pogues. There is also a terrific local Philadelphia band, Blackthorn, whose latest CD, Push & Pull would come in at #11 if the list was expanded.
Among the other great CDs and bands that you should have listened to over the last ten years are The Mother Truckers, a quartet form Austin, TX who released three discs of great Rolling Stones influenced country-rock. Another Texas band, Los Lonely Boys, are blues-rockers who have already become stars. Check out all of their CDs, including their pair of live discs.
Seamus Kelleher, Blackthorn's lead guitarist, issued a very nice solo debut, Four Cups of Coffee.
Also, make sure you hear Diane diStasio's debut. She is an opera singer who has taken the pop-rock route with amazing ease on Vox Eterna.
Hall & Oates issued the finest Christmas disc of the decade, Home for Christmas.
Finally, here are two interesting and very different "best of the decade" lists from Music Obsessive and The Review Revue.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in early January.